Here’s the playoff situation:
- The Thunder’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is five
- The Thunder’s magic number to clinch the Northwest Division is 14
- The Thunder are one game back of the Spurs, who they play tonight. The season series is currently 1-1 and they play once more April 4.
- If the season ended today, which is doesn’t, so that’s a stupid thing to say I know, the Thunder would play the Rockets in the first round, then the winner of Clippers/Warriors.
- If the season ended tomorrow, which is doesn’t, so that’s still a stupid thing to say, with the Thunder beating the Spurs tonight, the Thunder would play the Lakers in the first round and the winner of Grizzlies/Nuggets in the second round.
- The Thunder have 19 games remaining and are on pace to win around 60 games. They have nine home games left, with 10 on the road.
So… should the Thunder focus in on seeding these next couple weeks? Scott Brooks was asked about it Sunday and gave a pretty good response I think. Basically he said the team doesn’t necessarily look at the standings and seedings, but more just approaches each game with it being important to win in relation to the big picture.
It’s a cliche day-by-day approach, but also pretty wise. Trying to position and maneuver doesn’t really do a whole lot of good, because it’s hard to manipulate the standings. Just play your games, try to win and let it all fall into place where it does.
1. Kevin Durant (Last week: 2)
For anyone else, it’s not a shooting slump. For Durant, it kind of is.
After shoot just 48.5 percent in February from the field, KD is hitting 42.6 percent so far in six games in March. Just 28.6 percent from 3 and just 88.9 percent from the free throw line. His game Sunday against Boston was one his worst shooting games of the season (just the ninth time this season he’s gone under 40 percent).
I have no evidence to really support it other than knowing he cares, but I wonder if the 50-40-90 thing might be in his head a bit. He might kind of feel like he’s trying to hang on to it at this point, like a baseball player that’s hitting .408 in September and goes through a 1-12 slump. Right now, KD sits at 50.4-41.2-90.8.
What’s amazing about a guy like Durant though is while having a “down” month like March, he’s still averaging 27.0 points on just 19.2 shots a game, while putting up 4.8 assists and 9.5 rebounds. Where he’s really focused his attack, especially when his shots are dropping is consciously getting to the line. Against the Celtics, he went 11-11. Against New York, 14-15. He might not be hitting better than 50 percent, but he’s still producing.
2. Russell Westbrook (Last week: 1)
It might be the rolled ankle, or it might be a little come-down from his run of incredibly stellar play the last month, but Westbrook hasn’t been quite as spectacular the past week. He ripped apart the Lakers for 37 points and was off to another lightning start against the Knicks, scoring 15 points in the first quarter. Then he rolled his ankle, finished 3-13 for six points, then put up 11 in three quarters against the Bobcats and then just 15 against the Celtics on Sunday.
3. Serge Ibaka (Last week: 3)
Sunday’s game against the Celtics was Ibaka’s first game in March he didn’t register in double-figures scoring. And it was largely because he was in foul trouble most of the game. He’s a bit more selective shooting the ball as teams have concentrated on eliminating him as a mid-range shooter. He’s hitting 64 percent from the field in March so far, but has had only one game where he attempted double-digit shots.
4. Reggie Jackson (Last week: 7)
Reginald continues to impress in limited minutes. Much like Westbrook, Jackson has begun to figure out how to finish around the basket in traffic. That’s often a challenge for hyperathletic guards who explode to the rim and then don’t know how to gather and finish once they get there. Jackson has played consistently well for better than a month now. And as Scott Brooks showed Sunday against Boston, he’s flexing a bit in allowing Jackson minutes with Westbrook, interchanging the point.
5. Kendrick Perkins (Last week: 5)
Listening to Doc Rivers talk about Perk just made so much sense to me, especially as someone that sees the value Perk brings to the team.
“Perk’s numbers will never coincide with his production,” Doc said Sunday. “You look at his numbers and a lot of times you’ll say ‘What does he do?’ I can tell you — a lot. He’s a great player to have on your team when you have great players on your team, because he knows what to tell them and he backs them up. It’s good to have an instigator, and I think we can put Perk strongly in the instigator category. That’s why I love him … Red Auerbach told me that you need instigators on your team, and he may be the captain.”
6. Kevin Martin (Last week: 6)
Martin’s shot hasn’t fallen consistently the past few weeks (shooting just 33.3 percent in March), but the last four games he’s averaged 3.3 assists a game. He tied his season-high with five against the Lakers, followed that up with four against the Knicks and had three against Boston. Martin’s shot will come around — it will. But what’s encouraging is the fact he’s taking on a bit more of a creator role, using his dribble to open up looks for teammates. He’s a pretty good passer. He just hasn’t shown much of that the first couple months.
7. Nick Collison (Last week: 8)
I didn’t want to admit it before, but the past few weeks, it kind of seemed like Collison had slipped a bit. He wasn’t noticeably impacting the game either on the floor or in the box score. But he’s gotten back to his old ways this past week with good games against the Lakers, Knicks and Celtics. Against Boston, he was as good as any big the Thunder had defending Kevin Garnett. If you have that game on your DVR still, watch how he shows and then recovers on every Boston pick-and-roll. It’s magical.
8. Thabo Sefolosha (Last week: 4)
You know what was funny to me? When J.R. Smith blacked out and was hitting step-backs all over the Thunder, a lot of people started tweeting me that Thabo was an “overrated” defender. Yeah, because one guy got scalding hot against him.
This foot thing though is a bit of a concern, if it’s flaring up again. Scott Brooks said Sunday he doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal but then again, what else would Scott Brooks say.
9. Derek Fisher (Last week: 11)
Since his 0-6 start, Fisher is 10-17 from the floor, 6-8 from 3, for 29 points. He’s only played more than 20 minutes once — against the Hornets in a massive blowout — and is contributing offensively. So far, so good. So far.
10. Hasheem Thabeet (Last week: 9)
Still reeling from STAR basketball player Hasheem Thabeet’s baseline dreamshake against the Bobcats. That was so #KOOLIN.
11. Ronnie Brewer (Last week: 10)
He’s obviously not going to be much more than an end-of-the-bench guy, but one thing I noticed Sunday when he played a few early second quarter minutes was just how big Brewer is. He’s 6-7, 230, but he’s built. Not thick like fat, just… sturdy.
Inactives: Daniel Orton, Jeremy Lamb, DeAndre Liggins, Perry Jones III